Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tax Cuts and Free Trade Do NOT create American Jobs

The only jobs the government can create are government jobs and ones funded by government programs, which requires greater government spending not cuts to government spending. The government cannot create private industry jobs; those are created by demand. Demand is created when people have jobs and money to spend. The reverse is also true: fewer jobs, less demand; less demand, fewer jobs. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The truth is we may be expecting too much of our government if we expect them to create jobs and decrease spending. Also, it needs to be said that tax cuts do not create jobs either. They merely increase profits for corporations and individuals and create greater government deficits. Companies don’t hire more people just because they have greater profits; they hire people when demand requires it. If tax cuts did create jobs, with as many years that have passed since the Bush tax cuts were enacted, we would be building bridges over the Rio Grande to get the workers needed to do the jobs instead of fences to keep them out.

That being said, although government cannot create demand without significantly increasing spending, it can influence where jobs are created. Our current tax policy encourages companies to close US plants and move overseas. Since the tax code was changed under President G. W. Bush in 2004, 58,000 factories have closed in the US; thereby, eliminating millions of good paying, middle-class jobs. We need tax policies that make it more advantageous for those companies to move their operations back home. If our current corporate tax rate is too high, then let’s make it 0% for any and all corporations that are headquartered in and do 100% of their manufacturing and/or service in the US, or move back home. At the same time we need to greatly increase taxes for companies that have moved all or part of their operations overseas. We need both the carrot and the stick.

Free trade does not create US jobs either. It simply makes it cheaper and easier for foreign companies to sell their goods in the US and put US workers out of work. We need trade policies that actually protect and encourage production in the US. It is not our responsibility to bolster the economy of China or India or Mexico. We should be putting the American worker first. We need “fair trade” policies that will actually increase the number of US exports thereby creating jobs, not “free trade” policies that merely exports jobs.

At the very least, our government should only be buying products made in America; especially military equipment. Why would we ever buy military supplies from a foreign manufacturer? In the event of a war, they could easily stop production and make it difficult for us to get necessary repair parts. In addition we are giving away many of our secrets when we allow foreign companies to manufacture weapons systems. This is not only un-American it is just plain foolish.

We all need to do our part and buy American, even if it costs us a little more. We need to boycott companies that have moved their manufacturing and service (call) centers overseas, and reward those which have stayed home. And we need to call our Senators and Representatives and encourage them to pass “By America First” legislation for all government expenditures. That will at least put some Americans back to work, which will then create greater demand. That demand will then create even more jobs, which with the proper tax and trade policies will be good paying American jobs.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson writes and speaks frequently on Faith and Politics. He can be reached at revdrjimnelson@bellsouth.net.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Make History Tomorrow!

In 1922, Viola Ross Napier of Macon and Bessie Kempton of Atlanta became the first women elected to the Georgia General Assembly. The morning after the election, Napier, a widow, a lawyer, a Democrat and the single mother of four children said:
 Miss Kempton and I will not be the only women in the House for long. We are just the wedge for others to come through. Many will join us at the next election. I feel sure it will be a good thing. (Macon Telegraph, 9/15/1922)
It would have been a good thing, but despite Mrs. Napier's optimism, it was 77 years before Rep. Nikki Randall,  the next Democratic woman from Macon was elected to the Georgia House, and tomorrow, voters in Middle Georgia have the opportunity to make history by electing, Miriam Paris, who would become the first Democratic woman from Macon to serve in the Georgia Senate.

I don't know about you, but I think 91 years is long enough to wait.

It's no accident that it took so long for women to begin to find their footing in the political arena in Georgia, and nationally. There is no venue more friendly to the "Good 'Ole Boy" system than politics, and perhaps no political fraternity tighter than the one under the Gold Dome. There may be no Greek letters and no secret handshakes, but in the halls of power, the glass ceiling is real. And if a woman, like Paris, dares to run for a seat that was bequeathed from one male legislator to another, she can expect to face blowback from the male-dominated political establishment.

In this race, Paris has weathered attacks on her family, her children, and her intellect. Despite being a lifelong Democrat who campaigned with her father from the time she was a little girl, despite having never voted in a Republican primary, despite having run and won election as a Democrat, despite her tireless support of Democratic causes and candidates (including President Obama), despite earning the endorsement of groups like Georgia's WIN List and EMILY's List who ONLY support Democratic women - facts be damned -Paris has been attacked for being "a Republican." Why? Because that's what happens when you take on the Good 'Ole Boy system. The truth is less important than winning, less important than holding on to power, less important than maintaining the status quo, and less important than keeping the glass ceiling intact. Paris' composure in the face of these withering, mean-spirited and baseless attacks is a testament to the qualities she will bring to her service in the Georgia Senate.

A WIN List endorsement is no easy get, and Paris earned it. Georgia's WIN List exists to provide progressive Democratic women with the scaffolding they need to run for office and WIN. Georgia's WIN List has a single purpose: to elect progressive Democratic women to state level office in Georgia. While I am no longer on the board of WIN List, I am proud of the organization's accomplishments and, more than ever, believe in the efficacy of the mission. Far too few women hold elected office. Despite the fact that more women will vote tomorrow than men, according to the Rutgers' Center for American Women in Politics  , Georgia currently ranks 25th in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the General Assembly. Currently, only 23.3% of those serving in the Georgia legislature are women, and only 8 women serve in the Georgia Senate. Georgia women hold no statewide offices, no congressional seats and neither United States Senate seat. We can change those numbers one election at at time.

As bad as those stats sound, they represent an improvement over 2010, when Georgia ranked 37th nationally with women holding fewer than 20% of all legislative seats. African American women face even greater challenges. Nationally, of the 1,740 women who serve in state legislatures, only 239 are African American. At 22, more African American women serve in the Georgia Legislature than in any other state.  Since 2000, Georgia's WIN List has had a hand in helping to support and elect most of these outstanding women.

Tomorrow, voters in Middle Georgia have the opportunity to elect Miriam Paris, an outstanding Democratic woman, a woman for whom service is second nature and who demonstrated the toughness necessary to weather the storms of this campaign with the sort of grace and dignity we would all do well to emulate. I think Ms. Napier would have liked Ms. Paris - a lot. Now, let's elect her.